Melinda Benway, a facilities technician with PPL Electric Utilities, is working to turn a personal loss into the community’s gain.

Benway, who’s based in Montoursville, lost her husband, Randy, to prostate cancer in July 2016. The experience has driven her to become an active supporter of the American Cancer Society, and, in particular, the annual Relay for Life fundraiser.

“I don’t want another wife to go through what I went through, or another stepson to go through what my stepson went through,” she says.

Melinda had taken part in Relay for Life events in the past, having had other family experiences with cancer.

But her experience with the American Cancer Society after Randy’s diagnosis in 2014 made her a more active supporter. The organization provided the Benways with information and access to support groups – helping them learn more and come to terms with Randy’s illness.

“Cancer is a struggle both for patients and caregivers,” she says. “Having that support and education was really helpful.”

The society also provides donated walkers, wheelchairs and other equipment to people with cancer who may not have access to it through insurance. While the Benways didn’t need this help, Melinda was impressed that it was there.

Melinda honored her husband’s struggle by starting a Relay for Life team of family and friends, called Benway’s Beat It Crew. The team will return this year in his memory. This year’s event in Melinda’s area – Hughesville, Muncy and Montgomery, called the Relay for Life of Tri-Town — is scheduled for May 19 through 21.

She also supports the Cancer Society’s educational mission by urging family, friends and colleagues to get checked for cancer. Randy Benway had been “healthy as a horse,” his wife says, before going to see the doctor for forearm soreness; the doctor suggested a full physical, which turned up signs of his cancer.

“If he’d had a test two years sooner, it would have been much more treatable,” she says. “I’m a big advocate for men over 40 getting a PSA test.”

Stay tuned to PPL Stories for more stories of PPL Electric Utilities employees’ service to their communities.